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Public Statements

AEI Ideas - Paul Ryan Rips Obama's Comment that 'If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen'

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By James Pethokoukis

It was Rep. Paul Ryan's wife, Janna, who first saw -- via Twitter -- President Obama's recent comments about American entrepreneurs, that "if you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

And the Wisconsin Republican -- thought to be on Mitt Romney's running-mate short list -- couldn't believe it. He thought someone must "have been putting words in the president's mouth."

But Obama said it all. And Ryan absolutely tore into the president in a chat I had with him earlier today. Among the highlights:

* "The idea that these entrepreneurs owe all their success to some government bureaucrat or some centralized planner just defies reality."

* "Every now and then, President Obama pierces the veil. He's usually pretty coy about his ideology, but he lets the veil slip from time to time."

* "We believe in free communities and this is a statist attack on free communities."

* "He's deluded himself into thinking that his so-called enemies are these crazy individualists who believe in some dog-eat-dog society when what he's really doing is basically attacking people like entrepreneurs and stacking up a list of scapegoats to blame for his failures."

* "As all of his big government spending programs fail to restore jobs and growth, he seems to be retreating into a statist vision of government direction and control of a free society that looks backward to the failed ideologies of the 20th century."

* "Those of us who are conservative believe in government, we just believe government has limits. We want government to do what it does well and respect its limits so civil society and families can flourish on their own and do well and achieve their potential."

* "He wants to be as transformational as Reagan by undoing the entire Reagan revolution."

Now here are some longer excerpts:

Every now and then, he pierces the veil. He's usually pretty coy about his ideology, but he lets the veil slip from time to time. … His straw man argument is this ridiculous caricature where he's trying to say if you want any security in life, you stick with me. If you go with these Republicans, they're going to feed you to the wolves because they believe in some Hobbesian state of nature, and it's one or the other which is complete bunk, absolutely ridiculous. But it seems to be the only way he thinks he can make his case. He's deluded himself into thinking that his so-called enemies are these crazy individualists who believe in some dog-eat-dog society when what he's really doing is basically attacking people like entrepreneurs and stacking up a list of scapegoats to blame for his failures.

His comments seem to derive from a naive vision of a government-centered society and a government-directed economy. It stems from an idea that the nucleus of society and the economy is government not the people. … It is antithetical to the American idea. We believe in free communities, and this is a statist attack on free communities. … As all of his big government spending programs fail to restore jobs and growth, he seems to be retreating into a statist vision of government direction and control of a free society that looks backward to the failed ideologies of the 20th century.

This is not a Bill Clinton Democrat. He's got this very government-centric, old 20th century collectivist philosophy which negates the American experiment which is people living in communities, supporting one another, having government stick to its limits so it can do its job really well … Those of us who are conservative believe in government, we just believe government has limits. We want government to do what it does well and respect its limits so civil society and families can flourish on their own and do well and achieve their potential.

How does building roads and bridge justify Obamacare? If you like the GI Bill therefore we must go along with socialized medicine. It's a strange leap that he takes. … To me it's the laziest form of a debate to affix views to your opponent that they do not have so you can demonize them and defeat them and win the debate by default

I think he believes America was on the right path until Reagan came along, and Reagan got us going in the wrong direction. And and he wants to be as transformational as Reagan by undoing the entire Reagan revolution. … I think he sees himself as bringing about this wave of progressivism, and the only thing stopping him are these meddling conservatives who believe in these founding principles so he has to caricature them in the ugliest light possible to win the argument.


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